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  • Theatrical Version
  • Extended Edition
Release: Nov 13, 2017 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB
Compared are the regular Theatrical Version (German Blu-ray) and the Extended Edition (2017 MOD Blu-ray from the US (US TV Extended Edition)

- 121 extended scenes, inkl. 21x scenes with alternate order of events
- Length difference: 2726.2 sec (= 45:26 min)

The Versions of Superman (1978): Theatrical Version, Director's Cut & Extended TV-Cut

In 1978, Richard Donner set new standards with Superman - for screen adaptions of a comic that is. The DC character is well known - and not just due to its recent reboots.
Even back in the day, Donner had his issues with the producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind which reached its climax with the debacle called Superman II. Donner got canned during the shoot and the so-called Richard Donner Cut was not released until much later. But back to the original: In addition to the Theatrical Version with a length of 144 minutes, there are two more versions that have become really important for the fanbase.

In 2000, a Director's Cut with almost 8 additional minutes, also known as "Special Edition" because that is what the DVD is called, saw the light of day. The Blu-ray release only contains said Director's Cut. After fan complaints (among other things because of the altered audio track and some color corrections), the Theatrical Version is available on any subsequent release in addition to the Director's Cut.

For many many years, rips of some US TV Version in dreadful full screen (zoomed in on in the action in order to fit to screen I would guess) with a length of more than 3 hours were exchanged among fans. Said version was edited by the Salkinds (Donner was not involved at all). In 1982, it aired on ABC as two-part event and it aired on KCOP as well. It contains approx. 45 minutes of additional footage - much more than the additional footage of the Director's Cut and the deleted scenes on previous releases combined.

And the US TV Version is what the following comparison is all about. In September 2017, Warner surprisingly announced that the US TV Version aka Extended Edition would be released on Blu-ray. It has been available since 10/03/2017 and it is another one of Warner's MOD releases (= Manufactured on demand) - a full-value release but not a downmarket product. It can be order via and affordable for anybody.

The 2017 Extended Edition US Blu-ray by Warner

As stated before, the rips of the TV Version are in dreadful full screen and the quality is as bad as to expect from such old VHS rips. Compared to that, the new Blu-ray is some kind of revelation. Warner did indeed track down the 19 reels labelled "Superman; TV version" in the archives - without any further information on them. It turns out that they found a complete interpositive copy of the Extended TV Cut which Warner then scanned in 2K - in its original aspect ratio 2.40:1 and with more image information than the fan rips.

Color corrections were made as well and the result is magnificant. As for the audio, there is only a mono track available - as originally intended. Still, the sound is nice and John Williams's catchy score sounds pretty good. Last but not least, I would like to point out one more time that the TV Extended Cut is only available in English - it is uncertain whether or not it has even been released in non-English speaking countries. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the Blu-ray is region free - like many other Warner releases.

The Additional Footage of the Extended Edition

First of all, I would like to make it abundantly clear there are not many additional scenes - most of the new footage are small additions from start to finish. An additional snippy comment here, 2-3 additional reaction shots there... This is a thin line between "charming", because it allows fans to get sucked in deeper, and "too long" because the pace suffers from it every now and then. Almost every scene is longer in the Extended Edition - the problem is that one barely gets to see anything new.

As subcategory, one might as well mention consequently trimmed scenes with no new dialog or distinctive footage whatsoever. Instead, similar footage has been added before and after the actual shots. For instance, it is barely noticeable that Otis is being chased at the train station much longer in the Extended Edition and the same goes for the destruction of Krypton - one does not even realize how much new footage there is when simply watching it. In other words, the additional value is being kept within bounds - to say the least.

More interesting are the longer action scenes. The explosions on Krypton have been mentioned already but the exploding gas station at the end and the actual finale are probably more interesting anyway. For instance, there is a lot of additional footage showing the earthquake in San Francisco. There are more shot of shacking houses and bridges, rocks are falling down, the Hollywood sign gives in and is being set upright again. Not all the shots look astonishing, SFX-wise that is resp. that is probably why they were cut from the Theatrical Version in the first place, but some of the shot are quite nice actually.

Those who are familiar with the different version will already have noticed one of the longer scenes from the Director's Cut when I mentioned the Hollywood sign. And in fact, that scene is in the Extended Edition as well (big freaking surprise, right?) but it is more detailed here. In this context, the deleted scenes as part of the bonus features on previous DVD releases shall not be forgotten because they are in the Extended Edition as well - but not that is not the entire footage that has been added to the Extended Edition, not by a long shot.

Last but not least, there is something that is just a footnote in the following comparison - for obvious reasns: The amazing John Williams score is much longer now. One gets to hear tracks that were not in the previous reasons. Furthermore, the music cues differ due to the longer scenes resp. John Williams himself rescored the movie himself. All in all, the Extended Edition sounds "complete". There is a downside though: According to this little analysis, Warner screwed up the audio during the opening. However, that should not stop anyone from getting the Extended Edition.

Pointing out particular scenes is not as easy as it sounds but at the end of the day, all those little differences are what makes the Extended Edition so interesting in the first place: The main characters have more room to breathe and fans get a very entertaining bonus version. Because that is the way to look at the Extended Edition. Under no circumstances should this version be watched when one has not seen the movie yet - the Theatrical Version is the much better choice here. But the Extended Edition is worth the money - no doubt.

Time index refers to
Theatrical Version Blu-ray / Extended Edition Blu-ray
1 of 5
Right before the subsequent alteration, the off-comment "You cannot ignore these facts" has been removed.

Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
11:18 / 11:18-11:48

The interior scene starts earlier, the old man talks to Jor-El. This is also in the Director's Cut (2000).

Man: "An unpleasant duty has been masterly performed, Jor-El. They have received the fate they deserved. Isolation in the Phantom Zone, an eternal living death."
Jor-El: "A chance for life, nonetheless. As opposed to us."

29.8 sec

Alternate / Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
11:43:11:46 / 12:13-12:26

In the Theatrical Version, the previous shot is a little longer instead. In addition to tat, there is an alternate take of Vond-Ah saying: "It isn't that we question your data."

In the Extended Edition, the old man says beforehand (just like he does in the DC): "Jor-El, you are one of Krypton's greatest scientists."
His companion says: "Yes, but so is Vond-Ah."

Extended Edition 10.8 sec longer

Theatrical VersionExtended Edition

Alternate / Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
13:01-13:03 / 13:41-13:53

In the Extended Ediion (and also in the DC), the old man is more direct when he speaks about Jor-El's punishment: "You would be banished to endless imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, the eternal void, which you yourself discovered."

The Theatrical Version contains an alternate reaction shot.

Extended Edition 9.3 sec longer

Theatrical VersionExtended Edition

Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
13:37 / 14:27-14:30

Close-up of the hologram (also in the DC) before the council members leave.

3.3 sec

Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
15:44 / 16:37-17:04

Footage of the council's conference (also in the DC).

Kryptonian: "The energy input to Jor-El's quarters is now in excess. Our data indicates the loss is due to a misuse of energy."
Älterer Mann: "Investigate."
X: "And if the investigation proves correct?"
Older Man: "He knew the penalty he faced. Even as a member of this council. The law will be upheld."

27.1 sec

15:52 / 17:12-17:19

New footage in the Extended Edition for the very first time: There are two additional shots of Jor-El saying bye-bye to his family at the beginning of the scene.

6.5 sec

17:43 / 19:10-19:16

After saying goodbye, there is an additional shot of the helmet of the helmet of the security guard who is supposed to fly to Jor's quarter.

6.5 sec

17:48 / 19:21-19:30

Further shots of the building and little Kal-El.

9.3 sec

18:24 / 20:06-20:08

A further shot from the security guard's POV similar to the cut before last - except it already looks reddish here.

1.8 sec

It goes on like that for a while, the subsequent extended shots are just like the previous one. Probably worth mentioning is the more ostentatious and longer score in the Extended Edition.

19:02 / 20:46-20:57

Further shots of the collapsing planet plus the security guard here opens his eyes in the helmet.

11.2 sec

19:43 / 21:38-21:43


5 sec

19:52 / 21:52-22:02

Ditto plus intercuts to Jor-El and his wife Lara.

9.7 sec

19:54 / 22:04-22:15

Furter destruction and shocked Kyptonians.

10.6 sec

20:01 / 22:22-22:26


3.8 sec

20:18 / 22:43-22:48

And again, a few Kryptonians are buried alive.

5.2 sec

20:34 / 23:04-23:12

Same here.

8 sec

20:42 / 23:20-23:31

And here.

10.9 sec

21:04 / 23:53-23:57

Some more action.

4 sec

Partially Equal to the Director's Cut
21:41 / 24:34-24:49

More footage in space: The trapped villains yell "Stop!" while flying by.
Also in the Director's Cut, except it is more detailed here: The last shot of the villains is longer plus th DC lacks the first spae shot.

14.7 sec

25:42 / 28:49-28:59

Jonathan says more specific: "(Martha, now, you saw how we found him.) There's something very strange about that boy. Yeah, you saw him. Martha, you saw him just as plain as I did, Martha. (Martha Clark Kent, are you listening...)"

9.5 sec

26:18 / 29:35-30:32

Long distance shot of the Kents leaving the site. The following scene on the football field starts earlier as well. The coach makes the kids move their butts, the cheerleads (incl. Lana) are dancing. In addition to that, Clark comes closer slowly.

57.1 sec

27:03 / 31:17-31:32

Clark's conversation with Lana is longer before she offers to tag along to the record store.

Lana: "I think you're the nicest guy in the whole school."
Clark: "Well, thanks. Of course, it's part of the job, being team manager and all. And I'd do it for you anyway."

15.6 sec

27:10 / 31:39-31:47

Clark's response is a little indecisive: "Oh, well... Heh. I don't know..."
Lana does not look too thrilled.

7.9 sec

27:27 / 32:05-32:16

The others (giggling in the car): "Bad taste, bad Brad!"
Clark looks at Brad and says: "Sorry, Lana. Guess I'd better clean it up."

11.5 sec

28:25 / 33:14-33:22

Some footage of Clark through the binoculars that belong to the girl from the train (aka young Lois Lane) before she waves at him.

7.5 sec

Identisch zum Director's Cut
28:59 / 33:55-34:12

Little Lois also says (just like she does in the DC): "Golly, I saw a boy out there run as fast as the train! Faster even!"
Mother: "Lois Lane, you have a writer's gift for invention. I'll say that for you."
Lois: "But-- But--"
Father: "Lois, please read your book."
Lois: "No one ever believes me."

17 sec

29:11 / 34:24-34:50

Longer shots of the driving car with Lana, Brad and the others in it.

25.8 sec

Instead of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", one gets to hear some piece of music from the 50's in the Extended Edition (here and also in the subsequent additional footage).

29:18 / 34:57-35:25

The car ride is longer again. Lana does not seem to feel well.

28 sec

35:19 / 41:26-42:19

Clark earlier in the barn. He opens a hidden entrance and looks down.

52.8 sec

Identically Equal to the Director's Cut
36:05 / 43:05-43:40

Martha prepares breakfast and calls for Clark (just like she does in the DC): "Clark, get up. Good morning, Smiley. Clark, breakfast. Are you gonna sleep all day? Clark, come on. Get up."

35.2 sec

1 of 5